Oh what a beautiful morning...!

Well, it Friday and it's beautiful. The sun is shining, the sky is blue and the Liffey and all the red-brick buildings on either side of it are lit up. Gorgeous. I've worked really hard all week and I hope the weather stays like this 'cause I'd love to go to maybe Bray or Howth and have a windy walk on the beach.

My friend Saoirse and her Mom have invited me over Saturday evening so I'll stay at their house and we'll watch movies and the day after she's taking us out for lunch in Dundrum at a big mall they've got out there. So that all sounds very Mom-ish. Tell you the truth, I don't mind leaving the apartment for the weekend. No problems getting along with Bepe but sometimes it's good to have our own space.

Early this morning on the way into college the nicest thing happened. I was making a detour to buy an apple at my favourite greengrocer when he comes over looking all concerned and asked me if I wanted to have Christmas Dinner with his family. I explained that my folks were coming over and I think he looked slightly relieved, but still. He said: "I've a daughter of my own in a foreign country and thank God she will be back with us for the Christmas but if she wasn't I would hate to think of her being on her own."

Isn't that just the nicest thing? I am going to get my Mom to bring some bottled Moose over so I've something to give him for Xmas.

The eternal optimism of the Irish

Despite what they seem to think themselves, I would say that the Irish are a very optimistic people.

It's almost like a joke:

Q: How do we know the Irish are optimists?
A: Just look at all the umbrellas on a windy day.

Today is a case in point. It's Ireland and it's November, so of course it's windy. It's not cold and I personally find it pretty pleasant. Every day like this, I must pass about 20 bins into which passersby have stuffed their poor umbrellas, which are all inside-out and mangled because of the wind.

Guys, this is a northern European country near the Atlantic. Is it maybe time to give up on umbrellas and get, like, a hat?

So I think it says a lot about how optimistic people really are here. Despite experience, they keep right on buying umbrellas.

Last night I went to see A Christmas Carol at Cineworld on the grounds that it's the most Gothic of Dickens' novels and therefore it was almost work. It's a Disney production so I wasn't prepared for how freakin' SCARY it was. There were kids to the left of me, kids to the right of me, but I was the one with her face in her hands, worrying about getting to sleep after the show...

On the way home, I called to Lidl. Gotta love that place. I bought a huge bag of onions for about 20 cents which, tonight, I'm going to attempt to turn into French Onion Soup. How difficult can it be?

Two a week

I've been worrying about how to afford all the presents I want to get. I think if I do it gradually, I'll manage. I need to get things in the mail by next week if I want them to reach Newfoundland on time, and that means shopping this week for my sister and her family and for the few friends I want to send some things to.

I've made a start today! When my sister was over a few months ago, she really loved the Celtic jewellery that you can get on stalls and in shops all over the city, so I bought her a silver Claddagh ring. Really pretty. It only cost a few Euros--not much more than sandwich, really, but it's the sort of thing you'd wear always.

Then I had a brainwave: I'll get matching GAA shirts for her husband and all her boys. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy as my youngest nephew likes to say. I'm sure there are loads of places to buy them. I just have to fid the cheapest one.

I'm back at the apartment. I decided to work from home today. I like my room although it's very small, because there's a view of the Liffey and if you look out the window you can see the Ha'penny Bridge and all the people walking about.

The Liffey is a funny river because it's tidal, so it rises and falls with the tides, and there's proper seaweed growing in it, which you can see when the water is low. If you're wondering why I am waxing lyrical about the river, the reason is this: There's a great, big seagull standing on my windowledge giving me the beady eye. Those things are a lot bigger than you think when you see 'em close up and it's beginning to give me the creeps. Why doesn't he want to go hang out on the river with the rest of his buddies...?

Defintely having an Alfred Hitchcock moment here, folks...

Christmas countdown

I've never been such a huge fan of Christmas. Well, of course I loved it as a kid, but in the last few years I've been kind of negatively impressed by the whole commercial side of things. You know.

But this year I feel totally different. Like anyone, there are times when I find myself getting irritated and irritable around my family. I mean, I love them, but families are like that. And I guess I can be irritating too!!! But this year, because I haven't seen my Mom and Dad for so long, and because this will be the very first time that any of us has spent Xmas away from Newfoundland, I'm getting kinda excited. It's going to be a whole different experience! And this year, I'm doing the cooking! Which makes me think, heck, maybe I'll see if I can't book a restaurant for Christmas dinner, 'cause I don't want anyone to be disappointed. I'm getting good at soup, but hm...Turkey and Cranberry Soup, anyone? Ha, ha!!

I was talking about it with the greengrocer down the road, who I've come to realise is the Fount of All Wisdom. He said, "There's something wrong with this world when the Christmas decorations go up as soon as the Hallow'een ones come down."

But I'm not so sure that he's right this time. Winter is long and dark and while it has its rewards (hot port and brandy, anyone?) why not make the most of the biggest holiday? I'm totally already making plans for Mom and Dad and hoping that I also get some time to go out with friends. Saoirse's boyfriend will be out of town, so she'll be free for girls' nights out and stuff.

I have about 50 cents to do my Christmas shopping, so if anyone has smart ideas about where I could go, I sure would appreciate it. I actually do have to be organised if i want stuff to reach Newfoundland on time. I want to send some really nice things to my sister and her family, to a few friends and to my housemate Bepe's family, 'cause I really got fond of them when they were here. Suggestions anyone?


Well, after my fit of the blues last week, I had an amazing weekend. First off, on Friday, Saoirse called and invited me to meet her, her boyfriend and a couple of his friends for a meal. We went to a Korean joint on Parnell Street.

Well now, I had never had Korean food before. Perhaps stupidly, I had assumed it was kind of like a variation on Chinese. But it's completely different. It was a sort of barbecue with a hotplate right in the middle of our table. Also, I've had rethink on Saoirse's boyfriend. I thought he was boring but actually, he's really nice. So I am happy to eat humble pie.

Then, I have to say, the highlight of the weekend and something I hadn't planned at all; the 2009 Dublin Tattoo Convention! Wow! It was 15 Euros to get in, but it was totally worth it. There were people in there with the most incredible tattoos. I have just a teeny tiny one on my wrist from a few weeks ago, but seeing some of that amazing artwork made me think well....maybe just another, teeny-eeny-tiny one. My worry would me that it would get addictive and I wouldn't know when to stop ... and I don't want to end up covered in 'em from head to toe.

I did, ahem, give my number to a really cute Irish guy who has a tattoo parlour in Wicklow somewhere but something tells me that he's not the sort of boy my Mom'd approve of so I'm half hoping he doesn't call. Or am I. I don't know.

Well. That's all for now. I've been working superhard all day so I'm gonna pick up some veg on Moore St and try out some more soup.

Bon appetit!